Join us on a virtual tour of Vinaigrerie Gingras; from our orchard to a little about how we make our world-class apple cider vinegars
The tour starts below
If you want to learn how we craft our apple cider vinegars at Vinaigrerie Gingras, we have to start with our single ingredient: fresh apples. We know that superior ingredients make superior products, so we treat them like the treasure they are. We believe in a natural process, so we try to let the trees grow without our help, but we’re there in case they do.
As you walk through our beautiful 18 acres of apple trees, you may notice us pruning, checking the trees for fungus or signs of disease or hand-picking our apples come harvest time. We also employ honeybees (well, a local apiary and their bees) to naturally cross pollinate our trees. We’ve chosen 5 main apples that are traditional Quebec varieties.
This helps us to ensure that we have hardy trees for the cold Quebec winters, and also gives us a wide harvest window since each variety is ready at a different time. We then pick our apples at their peak of maturity; this gives us 3 things: the maximum amount of flavourful apple juice, the maximum amount of sugar, and a wonderful aroma.
We crush the apples immediately into juice, which then gets placed into stainless steel tanks for 2 to 3 weeks to become premium hard apple cider. The high sugar content and the natural apple yeast are what help us create the alcohol we need at this stage. The result gives us a fragrant cider that is ready to be turned into our stellar vinegars.
Once the cider is made, we start the acetic fermentation and aging process. This happens in our Founder’s Cellar where we have 36 large French oak casks, each able to hold 5000 litres. This makes our Founder’s Cellar the largest aging cellar of its kind. The hard cider is placed in the casks to age for a minimum of one year. During this time, it is given room to “breathe” and evaporate out of the wood cask. This process concentrates the flavors and makes the vinegar very viscous while allowing the microorganisms necessary to convert the cider into vinegar to enter the barrels. The longer the aging time, the better the end product is. The Mother vinegar (a substance composed of a form of cellulose and acetic acid bacteria that develops naturally during the fermentation process) turns the alcohol into acetic acid with the help of oxygen from the air.
The entire aging and fermentation process is closely monitored by our Cellar Master who regularly checks and tests the vinegar in each cask. The result is a deep, complex vinegar that is golden in colour with notes of apple and oak. It is also rich in Mother and ready for the next stage.
Some of our vinegar gets bottled straight out of the Founder’s Cellar, but our gourmet range of apple cider vinegars get refined in our Reserve Cellar. We currently have 3 vinegars in this range: Gingras XO Apple Cider Vinegar, Gingras XO Raspberry Apple Cider Vinegar and Gingras XO Bourbon Reserve Apple Cider Vinegar. Our Reserve Cellar contains smaller barrels that were previously used to make Bourbon. Our Cellar Master transfers the vinegars into these barrels and carefully creates each batch. Our Original Gingras XO Apple Cider Vinegar gets some additional aging, then gets filtered (but not pasteurized) to be ready for all your cooking needs.
Our Gingras XO Raspberry Apple Cider Vinegar is infused with fresh raspberries, while our Gingras XO Bourbon Reserve Apple Cider Vinegar spends and additional year aging to create an entirely different experience. Each of these culinary gems is hand-crafted and created especially for a variety of recipes. The extra aging gives them a unique flavour that can be used in vinaigrettes, marinades, and more. Check our Recipes page for ideas.